Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

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Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby mgbills » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:45 am

Good Morning,
This is an epic Marty ramble...be warned.

Being the questioning sort of guy, I have asked myself many times about the greater role the Dead played in my life. The first answer was that it allowed me to be whoever the F#%* I wanted to be. It freed me from the confines of being a Upstate NY towny/townie.

But that wasn't all of it. It was LSD in NYC in the early '80's. It was the destruction of social construct. And then there was Jerry. As stated numerous times, I did not get it on my first show. I'd been a rocker. Led Zep & Pink Floyd were my toxins. Morning & night. The Dead was not the music of my peers until I hit the City. I didn't understand the pseudo-country ramblings, but I did dig the scene. It gave me constant access to some vehicles of mind which seemed important at the time.

I caught this back in May.

http://www.radiolab.org/2007/sep/24/

2nd part…Sound as Touch. Fascinating.

Cortical neurons inherently love perfect 5ths. And…will release small amounts of dopamine which tells the brain…I’m pleased.
Dissonance causes these same special neurons to release too much dopamine…which is literally associated with schizophrenia. When Stravinsky first played Rite of Spring in 1913 the music it caused a riot. A year later he was carried out as a hero. 20 years later it’s in Disney. They feed schizophrenics dopamine suppressants. However…the special neurons eventually always reconcile the dissonance. Fascinating.

I've heard it said that Jerry had a form of synesthesia which allowed him to experience sound as color. It’s probably not all that uncommon. 1 in 23 people have some form. So…if he was on and you were receptive…he could (consciously or subconsciously) influence you with a touch of sound, and through creative dissonance…take you to unexpected places. Make you feel the emotion (perhaps) going on in his brain in the here and now. Or perhaps sing a new wordless verse of the song of the moment.

This is juxtaposed against a standard RnR musical performance. You hear a song. You like the song. You like the album. You buy tickets. The artist delivers these knowns…without creating much tension against the knowns. Lot’s of pleasant dopamine, but never too much. But ultimately it becomes boring. The soloist delivers just a bit more than the album version. To me ...it seems dead.

In GD music, we are constantly besieged by this dissonance and resolution …the hard edge of Help On the Way >Slipknot to the needed resolution of Franklin’s Tower. We always want the Franklins…because we want our dopamine to make us feel good. I always feel the crowd hold their breath until the opening notes. The other thing I always thought was cool was when the Boys would start a great number...something that went too long unplayed...Dark Star in the late '80's. Half of the crowd would have no idea what was coming but the energy pulls everyone to their feet...even the family in the back that just came for the spectacle.

Maybe this is why it’s not possible for most of us…to get it on the first pass. Unless you grew up with it playing in your ears, like my sons. Same with jazz. We can’t immediately tolerate the dissonance. Too much dopamine. Makes us schizophrenics. A jazz player I regularly study with says our appetite for dissonance grows as we continue to play. What once sounded "off" will first become a transitional note, and eventually become a target.

I think this process is also part of how we as players might think about playing/performing GD music. We take the skill set from studying music from the past. We build the skills & tools to form the songs, then the solos, but what then? A set of Dead music played note for note would always find new ears, and create the emotional journey of dissonance & resolution. But...my take would be that we ultimately must use the tools to create our own sonic experience.

Should we aspire to learn to sing through our fingers right to our emotion of the moment? Could we touch a listener with the sounds of our own internal peace or chaos?

Well...some of you can...I've got to get back to my job-job. But tonight it'll be double-stops, arpeggios, riffs & rhythmn work.

Peace
M

p.s. ~ I hope you at least find the Radiolab thing interesting. This was not intended as a speech from some pulpit...or a sermon...just some crap I was thinkin' about with a GD theme.
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:09 am

mgbills wrote:4

I've heard it said that Jerry had a form of synesthesia which allowed him to experience sound as color. It’s probably not all that uncommon. 1 in 23 people have some form. So…if he was on and you were receptive…he could (consciously or subconsciously) influence you with a touch of sound, and through creative dissonance…take you to unexpected places. Make you feel the emotion (perhaps) going on in his brain in the here and now. Or perhaps sing a new wordless verse of the song of the moment.


They dont call it the " blues " for nothing !
To me - GD playing is about losing yourself in the music - look at the clock and a few hours have gone by - thats where its at.
Let your subconscious out and put your conscious self away.
So music is about ( for me ) how it touches ME and hopefully anyone listening will get it.
:smile:
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby waldo041 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:28 am

I am absolutely sure they were well aware of it.

http://www.thebear.org/musicintro.html

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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby TI4-1009 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:08 am

Yup yup yup- I get it. I always loved the raucous, dissonant parts as much or more than the beautiful parts. I couldn't wait for drumz/space (when most others headed for a bathroom break). The farther (further?) out it went the more I just smiled, smiled, smiled. I liked it when you were shoved blindfolded into the chaos. You always knew that as lost as you were there would be a Black Peter or a Wheel waiting for you on the other side. I like the Feedback on LiveDead (almost) as much as St. Stephen. :shock: And while many of the Bobby songs had me rolling my eyes waiting for them to end, some of the later, edgier ones like Victim had a nasty complexity that I liked.
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby Octal » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:05 am

Does anyone find it different to play dissonant notes than to hear another play those same notes?
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby mgbills » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:44 am

Yes.

This may be tangential to your question, but I believe some players are naturally disinclined to "hang" on a dissonant note in improvisation. In other words ...maybe a less confident player will use dissonant notes more as passing tones. Or maybe their brain just finds the dissonance particularly challenging. A more confident player may stay on the dissonant note until it becomes acceptible.

I remember a particularly quiet passage in the Dark Star from Live Dead. The keys are playing a series of descending 1/8th or 16th notes, likely arpeggios if I remember. Jerry plays a series of off-beat dissonant notes and then either bends or releases to the tonic. Anyway...hard to describe what's in my head...and my work computer speakers have the right channel out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldoaglz7Qcg

The passage I'm thinking of starts at 11:20, but as stated I'm remembering it different than how I've just heard it.


I guess for me it's all in how it resolves. For some reason lately I'm feeling that my jams lack enough dissonance. Perhaps my ears have adjusted to my current bag of tricks, and I need to stretch out into new territory. Like maybe adding some 2's & 6's, and toggling some 5's.

Does this hit near the mark?
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby mgbills » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:46 am

I also remember Bob playing some dissonant notes in the mid '80's that I saw as a personal affront at the time, but I've learned a lot since then.

:lol:
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Re: Another way Jerry "Touched" us....

Postby TI4-1009 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:08 am

mgbills wrote:I remember a particularly quiet passage in the Dark Star from Live Dead. The keys are playing a series of descending 1/8th or 16th notes, likely arpeggios if I remember. Jerry plays a series of off-beat dissonant notes and then either bends or releases to the tonic. Anyway...hard to describe what's in my head...and my work computer speakers have the right channel out.


It took my imprinted brain about 12.5 milliseconds to zoom into just the section you're describing. I wore out two viny'l copies of Live Dead before I got the CD. :-)

And various chemical substances may or may not have been involved.

Seems like there are some echo-ie chanting/yodelish type vocals right about then?
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